Debate of November 26, 1895.Question: Resolved, That for the present system of subsidies should be substituted a system of free registry of foreign-built ships by American owners."
Brief for the Affirmative.C. E. BRYAN and C. DICKINSON.
Best general references: J. Codman, Free Ships; J. D. K. Kelley, Question of Ships; Edward Kemble in North American Review, Vol. 160, 85 (Jan. '95); J. C. Hall in Overland Monthly, 2nd ser. XII: 640 (Dec. '88); U. S. Statutes at Large, XXVI. 830, XXVII. 27; Speech of Mr. Fithian, in Cong. Record, 51 Cong., 2 Sess., pp. 1044 et. seq. (Jan. 8, 1891).
I. Our navigation laws have long required changing.- (a) American shipping has steadily declined since the introduction of iron construction in the early fifties: Kelley, Question of Ships 18.- (b) Though heavily protected, ship building has not thrived: Codman, Free Ships, 45-(1) Cost of labor (in iron ships nine-tents of whole cost) is too great here: Free Ships 30-32.- (c) The manning of ships even now is a more important industry than shipbuilding: The Question of Ships, 30.- (1) Over fifty times as much wages paid to sailors as to shipbuilders' operatives: Ibid. (d) In case of war we have no vessels for transports, a lack of which cost untold treasure and human life in the civil war: N. A. R., Vol. 142, 478 (May '86).
II. The present system of mail subsidies is undesirable.- (a) It is immoral: Cong. Rec. as above.- (1) It is the result of bribery and corruption: Ibid. p. 1044.- (2) Subsidies are a tax on the many for the benefit of the few: N. A. R. 148: 282 (March '94).- (3) It is an objectionable application of public funds to the promotion of a private enterprise which does not exist except to get the benefit of subsidies: Ibid.- (x) American ship-yards, generally speaking, have not for 30 years built ships for foreign trade: N. A. R. 160: 90 (Jan. '95).- (4) Subsidies are demoralizing to the recipients by causing extravagant management: Cong. Record as above.- (x) Example of the Collins line: Free Ships. (b) The present system is totally inadequate.- (1) The present subsidies on the Atlantic apply to very few ships, and of the most expensive class: U. S. Statutes XXVI. 830.- (2) Do not apply to the general carrying trade, nor serve as encouragement to ship owners: N. A. R. 154: 354 (March '92).- (c) A system of subsidies is impracticable.- (1) Subsidies large and general enough to be efficient would be too great a tax: N. A. R. 142: 478 (May, '86).- (2) Subsidies are disastrous to general ship-owning by ruining the unsubsidized: Ibid. 481-(3) Subsidies have never been a success, here or elsewhere: N. A. R. 160: 85 et seq.- (x) Italy lost much of her shipping through a system of subsidies: Ibid. 93.- (y) France tried subsidies, and her tonnage actually decreased: Ibid. 93.- (z) England never used subsidies to encourage ship-building, but only to secure regular sailings to her colonies: Ibid. 91: Cong. Record as above,
III. Free ships furnish the only practicable remedy.- (a) To compete with other nations we must give our ship owners the right to buy their ships in the cheapest market: Free Ships 45.- We cannot keep foreign ships off the ocean.- (b) Buying ships abroad which can not be built here can not injure our builders: N. A. R. 160: 87.- (c) Free ships would stimulate building by requiring great repair shops and by encouraging American inventive genius: Question of Ships, 50.- (1) Example of Germany, Ibid.- (d) Germany got her enormous carrying trade and encouraged ship-building by allowing free registry of British-built ships: Free Ships 23.- (e) England maintained her supremacy at a critical time by allowing our clippers free registry: Question of Ships.- (f) Free ships would give our own people a large share in our carrying trade which was 200,000,000 in 1892: N. A. R. 154:357 (March '92).- (1) Our officers and sailors can man ships as well and as cheaply as any others: Ibid.- (x) Our maritime success in the fifties was obtained when the difference in wages of crew and cost of stores was as much in England's favor as now: Overland, 2d Ser. 12: 641 (Dec. '88).
Brief for the Negative.H. A. BIGELOW and S. HECKSCHER.
Best general references: W. W. Bates, American Marine; Lippincott's Mag., XLV. p. 715; North Am. Rev. vols. 154, p. 56; 156, p. 398. H. Hall, American Navigation; Cong. Record 51 Cong. 2nd Sess., Vol. 22, Part 1, p. 1000 seq.
I. Subsidizing has frequently proved a most effectual way of building up a merchant marine.- (a) It is through it that England, France, and other maritime powers have attained their supremacy: Bates, Am. Marine, pp. 85-87; Lipp. Mag. pp. 720 seq.- (b) When tried in the United States it proved successful: Hall, Am. Nav., 56-58,- (c) The results of the present system have gone far to justify subsidizing.
II. Subsidizing a young marine is in general accord with the policy protection of infant industries.
III. Free registry gives a marine of recent growth little chance to compete with long established marines.- (a) We can find no instance of a thriving marine started under the system of free registry.
IV. Free registry, hitherto unsuccessful in the United States, must be proved capable of bringing forth better results than are at present produced by our subsidizing system.
V. Subsidizing is advantageous for economic reasons.- (a) Subsidizing benefits our merchant marine.- (1) American vessels can compete with subsidized vessels of foreign nations: Bates, Am. Marine, 147; Hall, Am. Nav. 78; Lipp. Mag., 719.- (2) American marine will then be increased by many new vessels: Hall, Am. Nav., 79.- (b) A superior merchant marine benefits our general trade and commerce: Bates, 425.- (1) By offering superior transportation facilities: Hall, 81.- (2) By opening up trade with new nations and increasing already existing trade.- (c) Increased trade increases agriculture and the industrial products of the country: Hall, 80 seq.; Lipp. Mag., 719-(1) Extensive new markets are opened up, as South America.- (2) An immense impetus is given to ship building.- (d) Large sums of money, for the most part paid to English shippers, will finally be paid to American shippers and kept at home: Bates, 425.
VI. Subsidizing is advantageous for political reasons:- (a) It maintains private shipyards, essential to the government in time of war.- (b) It furnishes a powerful auxiliary navy and a training school for mariners.
VII. A system of free registry would not be advantageous.- (a) It will add nothing to our merchant marine.- (1) Why do not Americans now buy foreign vessels and sail them under foreign flags? Hall, 75.- (2) Foreign subsidizing gives an advantage to foreign carriers and there is not sufficient difference in the cost of building ships: No. Am. Rev. vol.: 156, p. 398.- (3) If ships should be built abroad our ship building industry and ship yards would be ruined.- (b) Free registry was proved unsuccessful in the United States.- (1) In 1859 when subsidies were withdrawn our transatlantic lines failed: Bates, 465.